This is not an opinion, but rather a fact. The oldest university in the U.S. claims to be founded in 1636.  That is ancient if you ask me. If you are afraid that if your young adult leaves college that they’ll never return, that does not need to be a valid fear.  To be direct, college will still be there when they’re ready to return.

Not having a traditional college experience between the ages of 18-22, is a common thing for a lot of people.  If your young adult is not thriving in college for several reasons, it’s totally okay for them to stay away.  Now, it’s not okay for them to leave and retreat to your basement to spend the rest of their days.  That sounds unfulfilling for all parties involved.  If they need to take a break, let them.  It will all work out.

If they leave and never return, it’s not for a lack of trying.  It would be because your young adult decided they didn’t need a college degree for their career path.  Maybe they fall in love with welding and get a certification.  They’ll be making more in six months in that career path than if they had spent another three years studying at a university.

If they ever choose to return, they totally can.  Want to hear why?  Because college is still there when they decide to apply.  Now it may not be the same exact institution, studying alongside the same cohort, but in the end what does that matter?  We want our young people to feel less pressured into a path they aren’t ready.  If they need to hit pause from studying in college to unplug, unwind, and get more in touch with their purpose, passion, and needs, then we ought to encourage to do just that. 

College isn’t going anywhere.  If your young adult needs to leave, they need to leave.  If they return, great!  If they don’t, then they’ll go back when they’re ready.  That’s it.  If you are worried they won’t return to college, you’re focusing on the wrong piece of the situation altogether!

For anyone looking for additional resources around mental health, substance abuse, college transition support, or parent resources you can find them on:,  follow @lilleyconsulting, or visit  If you’re on a podcast kick, also check out the new Podcast series titled Success is Subjective.


  • Joanna Lilley, MA, NCC

    Therapeutic Consultant / Young Adult Transition Specialist / College Success Coach

    Lilley Consulting

    After previously working at two institutions of higher education, specifically in Student Success & Retention, Joanna hung up her shingle to provide support for the flight of students leaving colleges campuses.  She now dedicates herself to working solely with emerging adults who unravel when they land on a college campus.  Her passion and drive is to coach this population back into good academic standing, or connect this population to mental health and substance abuse treatment programs that will provide stability, sobriety, and the executive functioning skills this population needs to move forward in life.  Most of her clients are currently enrolled on campus, or those who have already left feeling defeated.  With a magic wand, Joanna supports young adults with mental health issues with their the transition into adulthood and back into higher education.  Fear not, she works with the entire family system to help them heal and grow as this is not a "quick fix."  You can learn more about Lilley Consulting by checking out the website.  You can also listen to the Success is Subjective Podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or any podcast listening platform where she interviews individuals across the country who took a break during their emerging adulthood years.  This podcast is ideal for young adults or families members who are looking for hope and relief in supporting a loved one.  When not working with young adults, you will find Joanna writing or playing outdoors with her rescue pup in the mountains of western Colorado.